Football: Predicting games ain't no pic-a-nic...

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By Mike Cote

OK, so maybe my NFL playoff picks didn't go quite as well last week as they could've. Personally, I blame that "Yogi Bear" movie.

How could anyone think it was a good idea to make a movie about Yogi Bear? He wasn't that funny 50 years ago and he certainly hasn't aged very well. How did anyone think they could score big bucks in theaters by resurrecting him now when almost no kid in the world has any emotional attachment to him?

The question is so mind-boggling I'm certain the Saints defense, the Colts offense and the Colts coaching staff were rattling that around their collective heads instead of worrying about playing football last week.

I simply didn't take the awesome power of that movie into account when making my picks last week.

The Saints did nothing to stop the mediocre offense of the Seahawks. A healthy 36-point showing does you little good if your defense coughs up 41 against an aging, ailing quarterback and a running game that did nothing for the last month of the regular season.

The Colts were even more surprising. Not only did Manning & Co. come out with an insomnia-curing offensive game plan, Jim Caldwell was only too happy to prolong the endgame and take the gamble that the Jets would struggle more converting a short field goal with the clock stopped than a long field goal they would have to rush to get off.

But then is then and now is now. Here's my attempt this week to prove I'm smarter than the average bear:



Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 2:30 p.m., Channel 13

Don't be too surprised if there's not a few strewn body parts on Heinz Field when this one's over. These two teams are among the most physical in the game and they don't like each other too good.

The Ravens dismantled the Kansas City Chiefs last week, shutting down a solid young offense and forcing five turnovers. The offense didn't generate the kind of numbers they probably would've liked, but was as good as it needed to be.

These two teams are very evenly matched with the Steelers having an edge in rushing offense and defense. That, plus the fact that the Steelers got to lounge around last week, may well be the deciding factors between the two teams that know each other about as well as any two teams in the league. Steelers 24-21.


Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons, 6 p.m., Channel 2

Despite being the No. 6 seed in the NFC, the Packers are a legitimate threat in these playoffs.

Coming off a road victory against Philadelphia, which once again managed to underperform in a wildcard contest, Green Bay feels momentum is on its side and it's hard to argue.

Even though they're the top seed, the Falcons have given me the sense since opening day they're playing above their heads. Quarterback Matt Ryan is bursting at the seams with potential, but now is the time to prove he belongs among the NFL's elite.

I'm going with the home team here, mostly on percentages, but I dare say this one could easily go the other way. Falcons 28-21.




Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears, 11 a.m., Channel 2

Yes, this Bears-Saints game could go right down to the wire. Anything can happen between these two teams and…what? The Seahawks are still hanging around? How is this possible?

Right now the Seahawks are 1-0. That, I've been told, is the only record that matters.

I respectfully disagree. Here's another record that I think holds more water: the Seahawks were 2-6 away from Qwest Field this season.

Yes, Seattle beat Chicago in the regular season, a game in which Jay Cutler played like Jay Cutlet. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility it could happen again.

Oh, wait. Yes it is. Bears 27-10.

New York Jets at New England Patriots, 2:30 p.m., Channel 13

I don't mean to sound like some sort of "jerk," but the Jets have made it this far by the grace of Caldwell.

The Jets defense looked tough last week, but the Colts didn't exactly challenge them by throwing the ball down the field or adding any interesting wrinkles. The Jets offense ran the ball well against a worn-down Colts defense and showed zero confidence in quarterback Mark Sanchez after one ill-advised first half pass.

The Patriots nipped the Jets 45-3 last time these teams met in Foxboro. They've had a week to watch New York's game film and, by the way, Rex Ryan, that's not Caldwell on the other sideline. Patriots 38-17.